2014 NAAE Region II Outstanding Young Member Award Winner
As educators, we all want to see our students succeed. We walk into our classrooms each morning thinking of ways to help our students achieve at a higher level than they did the previous day. For Danielle Newsom, agriculture teacher at Abbeville High School in Abbeville, Louisiana, student achievement is her top priority.
Newsom has taught at Abbeville High School since 2012. The majority of the school population consists of high-risk students who live at or below the Louisiana poverty line. Many of her students have never seen or been on a farm, since they typically live in the inner city of the Vermilion Parish. For this reason, Newsom uses her classroom as a place where her students can develop personal, life, and occupational skills.
"My success is based on the success of my students," said Newsom. "I became an agriculture teacher because of the experiences my agriculture program gave me and it is my career goal to provide students with a similar experience."
In order to better serve her students' needs, Newsom's program offers dual enrollment credits in welding, electricity and carpentry with South Louisiana Community College. This allows her students to develop skills and receive training they can use to be successful outside of the classroom. These opportunities help her students secure employment after graduation, or attend South Louisiana Community College for postsecondary education and additional training.
She also provides her students with various other hands-on experiences in the classroom. Newsom uses an interactive white board to test her students' knowledge of properly setting up an oxy-acetylene cutting torch before they are able to work in the shop. The activity teaches her students the importance of following directions and safety when working with hazardous materials. She also facilitates an engine building competition with her students in her small engines class. Students work in teams to disassemble and reassemble an engine block. The competition engages students and allows them the opportunity to apply their knowledge of engines in a real-life setting.
"The students really get competitive and enjoy watching each other," said Newsom. "They show me what they have learned by telling their peers what to do next or what is wrong with the engines. I enjoy this because the students are learning without realizing it because they are having fun."
Newsom has also made it a career goal to rebuild the Abbeville FFA Chapter. In 2011, there were only 20 FFA members. As of 2014, there are nearly 110 members -- almost a 400% increase in only two years. She encourages her students to participate in the FFA chapter by taking them to FFA leadership camp, FFA conventions, Career Development Events (CDE's), and livestock shows. Over the past two years, nearly 30 of Newsom's students have participated in FFA activities beyond the local level.
"I plan to continue to recruit and increase involvement in chapter activities in the years to come. I am very proud of the student success achieved while I have been at Abbeville, from being selected to serve on the state nominating committee, to winning various area CDE's," said Newsom. "I look forward to many future successes."
Danielle Newsom's hard work and determination to help her students succeed is the reason she was selected as the 2014 Region II Outstanding Young Member award recipient. The Outstanding Young Member award is sponsored by John Deere, as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. For more information about NAAE award programs, click here. To read about all the 2014 NAAE award winners, follow this link.
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